Sunday, 9 November 2008

Of Time and the City

Sunday matinee at the Filmhouse with Terence Davies's elegiac homage to his home town Liverpool Of Time and the City.

It's a beautiful portrait of a lost fifties landscape before The Beatles and the tower blocks, rearranged the city's reputation and view.

Davies loves classical music and Mahler and Liszt fuse gently with archive footage and literary quotes to create a nostalgia of grainy fragments and curious stares into the lens, offered by children with no sense of their future. At the heart of the film is a yearning for the glorious golden moments of a blue remembered past and a regret that, having deserted his home for London in the seventies, he has returned to find its face all but unrecognisable.

I'm always swayed by the masses in these old images - huge football crowds, dockers swarming through the gates, heading for work, in the early morning and the fun seekers squirming for a patch of sun by the lido, lying body to body, in New Brighton. This is the different world that I no longer see, but then Liverpool has always struck me as a city with a busy flow. A port city continually in transit, continually mobilised, continually unionised.

When I was a young teacher in the North West, I made a special pilgrimage to Anfield in the last year that the Kop was a terrace, before the stadium became all seater. I bought a ticket on the black market and stood amongst the celebrants as they sang 'You'll Never Walk Alone.' I've never supported Liverpool, but the experience was incredible.

The game itself was a nothing 0 - 0 against Arsenal, marked only for the debut of a young teenage substitute called Robbie Fowler. With two minutes to go Fowler was sent clean through with just David Seaman to beat. He rounded him and with the net gaping and the Kop willing, panicked and fired the ball high into the stand.

There was a stunned silence and then as Fowler sat on the pitch crumpled in disappointment and embarrassment, a chant began and was picked up by 10,000 - 'One Robbie Fowler, there's only one Robbie Fowler.' Fowler lifted his head, listened carefully to his name and picked himself up from the deck. As he ran back towards half way he turned to meekly applaud the fans. He then spent the next ten seasons repaying them with interest for their collective faith.

It was a magic, magic moment.

No comments: